Nonprofit Marketing Education in the United States: An Examination and Interpretation of the Prevalence and Nature of Curriculum

December 20, 2012

Conley, T.  (2012). Published Dissertation.


The nonprofit sector is a large, growing, and essential part of the United States economy. There is a history of inspired ideas and complex change in the nonprofit sector that marketing educators and business school administrators must understand if they are to be leaders in the continuing evolution of nonprofit marketing education. This manuscript includes a summarized historical perspective, a selective review of literature from existing nonprofit management and marketing education, a discussion of relevant contemporary issues for consideration, and mixed-method research results regarding the prevalence and nature of nonprofit marketing education. The mixed-method research strategy includes three phases; the first is quantitative, followed by two qualitative phases. The research results reveal four distinct themes that contribute new information to the practice of nonprofit marketing education: 1) undergraduate and graduate programs have similar curricula, but should be different so each is focused and delivered based on their respective experiences and outlooks while complementing business school realities; 2) the general tone of curricula elements and project work is often altruistic, and as a consequence is not effective in preparing undergraduate and graduate students to meet the marketing challenges unique to the nonprofit sector; 3) certificate programs in nonprofit marketing are few and represent a unique and untapped area of opportunity for business schools to leverage existing resources and provide a needed service for existing nonprofit employees with little or no marketing education; and 4) the lack of uniform and clear terminology related to or associated with nonprofit marketing hampers the ability of faculty members to reach educational objectives on behalf of their students. This manuscript concludes with discussion, interpretations, and recommendations to guide and further evolve curricula for nonprofit marketing education in the United States.